World leaders reiterate importance of pandemic treaty

(Geneva) Experts and former world leaders urged countries on Tuesday to agree on ways to fight the next pandemic, four years to the day after the WHO declared maximum alert against COVID-19.

For more than two years, countries, appalled by the human and economic devastation caused by the pandemic, have been trying to develop an agreement to avoid making the same mistakes in the fight against the next health disaster, or even to prevent it.

Their goal was to finalize the deal before the end of May 2024.

But World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently sounded pessimistic about countries’ ability to agree, because the sense of urgency over the COVID-19 pandemic is fading quickly.

However, it demonstrated that the world was not ready to face this type of situation and experts agree that there will inevitably be other pandemics.

Time is running out, dozens of personalities, including former heads of state and government, as well as the group of independent experts for pandemic preparedness and response, warned in an open letter on Tuesday.

Led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, this panel of experts recommended in May 2021 the development of a binding text on pandemics.

“It is possible to avoid a new pandemic if we act now,” underline the signatories of the open letter.

The signatories of the letter call for the future treaty to ensure that “all countries have the capacity to detect, warn and contain pandemic threats, as well as the tools and means necessary to protect health and well-being economic and social of the populations”.

“There are worrying signs of an impasse on several issues,” they lament.


The process of developing a text on prevention, preparation and response to pandemics was launched in December 2021 unanimously by the 194 WHO member states.

Their objective was to conclude the international agreement during the next World Health Assembly which will bring together all WHO member countries from May 27 to 1er June in Geneva.

But differences persist.

European countries are calling for more investment in pandemic prevention, while Africa is calling for better access to know-how, financing, as well as tools to fight pandemics, such as vaccines and treatments.

The WHO chief also explained last week that negotiations had been slowed by “a surge of misinformation, lies and conspiracy theories.”

The signatories to the letter – which include former UN chief Ban Ki-moon, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo – call for all regions to have access rapid access to tools to combat pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed that some poor countries had to wait a long time to get the first doses of vaccines.

“Every region must have the capacity to research, develop, manufacture and distribute life-saving tools, such as vaccines, tests and treatments,” they say.

They also want there to be “sustainable financing for pandemic preparedness and response”, and insist on the need for countries to demonstrate transparency on their commitments through the establishment of a surveillance system. independent.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, its highest level of alert, lifted on May 5, 2023.

But the COVID-19 virus is still rampant. More than seven million deaths have been officially recorded across the world since the outbreak of the disease at the end of 2019 in China, but the WHO believes that these figures are largely underestimated.

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